Summer of Stories: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
September 2, 2011
Summer of Stories: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Private Matters
September 7, 2011
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Rupert Murdoch

Labor Day has come and gone, and for many, it is the symbolic end to summer. School is back in session, white pants are put in storage and pool floaties are deflated. While summer may officially end on Sept. 23 - and here in Phoenix it’s still 110 degrees - it is time for us to look forward to fall. But before we do that, let’s recap what we learned this summer. No, not through our fabulous and informational blog posts of months past (although I highly recommend you skim our archives), but what we learned from this summer’s biggest PR stories, scandals and stunts.

Today's stories: The Big Wigs

1. The News of the World vs. The World

Although the Great Murdochgate of 2011 started as many as 10 years ago, it was July 2011 when things got really skeezy. Well, all of it was pretty skeezy, considering News Corp tabloid News of the World was accused of hacking the phones of celebrities, the Royals, and even murder and war victims’ families. But by July 2011, the questionable investigation, proof of payment to police and mysterious death of a whistle-blower, NOTW was in full-blow crisis mode. But rather than Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of News Corp, take the blame, he stood by his mea non culpa attitude – reminiscent of BP’s Tony Howard – and ultimately resulting in the end of the 168 year-old publication and a pie to Murdoch’s face.

What we learned: Transparency and honesty are key, both in a public relations crisis plan and overall business ethics. In Murdoch’s case, nothing could have saved the paper, but the fall from glory could have been a bit more graceful with the help of a better PR plan.


2. The White House Forums and  the president spams

The U.S. debt crises reached its D-Day this summer, and it gave most American’s sleepless nights and depleting investments. President Obama’s approval sank to an all-time low at 57 percent disapproval rate, and the heated debate was creating an even bigger divide between Red and Blue.

Never one to stray away from social media, President Obama had two major tweetups this summer. Frist was a massive town hall style tweetup – The White House Forum – in which people tweeted questions with the hash tag #AskObama and he responded via a live broadcast on television. Over 170,000 tweets were sent, 17 of which were answered. Although that may only be .01 percent, it was the first time a president has been able to have town hall meeting with the entire nation.

In his second tweeting event of the summer, the president targeted Republican representatives asking to find a compromise in the debt-ceiling standoff with the appropriate hashtag #compromise. But rather than stirring up public support and urging others to tweet the same (we can assume that was his intention), the repetitive tweets seemed to have annoyed most people, and President Obama lost nearly 14,000 followers a few hours after his staff started the campaign.

What we learned here: You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.


Tomorrow: Private Matters - Some things are just not meant to be shared publicly. See who broke that rule in Part II of the Summer of Stories series.

Stephanie Lough
Stephanie Lough
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

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